Sharing the Road

Drivers share the road with many other users: pedestrians, bicyclists, moped and motorcycle riders, trucks and buses, recreational vehicles and other vehicles of all shapes and sizes. It is your responsibility to adjust your driving to avoid other drivers’ mistakes and assure everyone’s safety.

Pedestrians are especially prone to serious injury when struck.

  • Be careful around schools, playgrounds and in residential areas where small children may be playing or crossing the street.
  • Look out for the elderly, who may have poor vision and hearing. Remember that the elderly and people with disabilities may move slowly.
  • Be especially aware of pedestrians when making a right or left turn. They have the right-of-way. Allow pedestrians to completely cross the street before beginning your turn.
  • Be alert for pedestrians at all times. Slow down and be prepared to stop.

Bicycles are considered vehicles and have the same right-of-way as motor vehicles. Bicyclists are allowed to ride in the center of the lane, when necessary, such as when they are about to turn left or when the lane is too narrow to share side-by-side with a car. Bicyclists are legally allowed on all public roads except interstates and most freeways (limited access highways). Bicyclists may also be riding in either direction on sidewalks.

Bicyclists are expected to obey the same traffic rules and regulations as vehicle drivers; however, many are children who may not know or obey the rules. Slow down when you approach bicyclists. State law requires motorists to pass cyclists with at least three feet of clearance. Give them plenty of room when passing and be prepared to stop suddenly. Check your blind spots. A bicycle’s small size allows it to slip into your blind spot easily. Always check for bicyclists before you pull out, change lanes, turn, back up, or proceed through an intersection.

Mopeds: It is against the law to operate a moped faster than 35 MPH or on an interstate highway. Any person who operates a moped faster than 35 MPH is considered to be operating a motorcycle which must meet Virginia registration requirements. In addition, the operator would be required to hold a valid driver’s license with a motorcycle classification or a driver’s license restricted to operating motorcycles only.

Moped riders must be at least age 16 and obey all rules of the road. They must carry some form of government-issued photo identification (does not have to be a driver’s license) that includes name, address and date of birth. As a driver, treat moped riders with the same care given to any other vehicle driver. Riders and passengers must wear helmets, and use eye protection if the moped does not have a windshield. The moped must be titled and registered with DMV. Although you do not need a driver’s license to operate a moped, you may not operate a moped if you have been declared a habitual offender and your license is suspended or revoked for driving while intoxicated.

Motorcycles: Approximately half of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve automobiles. Many crashes are caused by the motorist’s failure to see a motorcycle in traffic.

  • Look for motorcyclists. In more than half of all crashes involving motorcycles and automobiles, the other driver didn’t see the motorcycle until it was too late. Drivers are conditioned to look for four-wheeled vehicles; but they don’t expect to see two-wheeled vehicles. A motorcycle’s small size also makes it difficult to see.
  • Check your blind spots. A motorcycle’s small size allows it to slip into your blind spot easily. Always check for motorcycles before you pull out, change lanes, turn, back up or proceed through an intersection.
  • Never tailgate a motorcycle (or any other vehicle). Allow yourself plenty of braking distance by adding an extra second to the following distance rule. In inclement weather, double this distance.
  • Anticipate the motorcyclist’s movements. Although a motorcycle is not as wide as the lane, the rider will use the entire lane as traffic situations and road conditions change. A slight change or debris on the road surface can be a major obstacle for a motorcyclist. Expect the motorcycle to make sudden moves within the lane. Never drive beside a motorcycle in the same lane.
  • Yield to motorcycles. The small size of a motorcycle can cause you to misjudge the motorcycle’s speed and distance. Before pulling out into traffic, check twice for motorcycles and use extra caution before you pull out in front of one.
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